Saturday's Letters: City should warn it is a bicycle-theft hot spot

I AM a pensioner with a hip problem that makes walking any distance difficult. I can, however, bicycle.

On Saturday, July 11, my husband and I came into York by bicycle and secured them together and round a provided bicycle rack with a wire cable padlock.

I also put a second cable padlock on the rear wheel of my bike.

We were away for less than half-an-hour only to find on our return the cable securing the two bikes together had been cut and my bike was missing – there was no sign of my second lock.

I contacted the police who informed me that they had a major problem with bicycle theft in the city. I asked why there were no notices displayed to say "Beware, bicycle thieves operate in this area" and was informed that York Council will not allow this as it shows the city in a negative light towards tourists.

York is actively promoted as a great place to cycle with many and varied bicycle tracks, but you can't warn tourists that bicycle theft, to quote the police, is rampant. That, to me, is very wrong.

The next day, we passed the same spot where my bicycle was stolen, only to see two cut bicycle locks on the ground.

By sheer coincidence, those bicycles belonged to other visitors who were staying on the same campsite as us. So, in less than 24 hours three bicycles were stolen from the same place, a haul worth more than 1,000.

I have used that bike chained up all over Europe without a problem, only to have it stolen in my own country.

To the low life that commit these crimes who think it is a victimless crime "as they have insurance", let me say that my house insurance has an excess that is more than the cost of a new bike, so I am that victim.

Net result was that, with no transport, my holiday was over and we returned home. Well done, York.

From: ME Douglas, Meikle Crook, Forres, Moray.

Townspeople who honour the fallen

From: Robin L Wilkins, Chantry Close, Doncaster.

BY their actions, the 12,000 citizens of Wootton Bassett have done more than our elected representatives at Westminster, to bring home to us all the price to be paid for the war in Afghanistan.

It is a measure of their humility that the Mayor, while welcoming the attention given to their actions, was moved to comment that the clicks of press cameras was a distraction from the objective, which was to honour those who have given their lives for this country.

Perhaps it might be an idea for party leaders to instruct a Cabinet member and their opposite number to attend this town on each occasion that a cortege passes through, to honour those who have died as a result of decisions they have taken.

From: Denis Healy, Spring Bank, Hull.

EACH week we are seeing increasing numbers of brave British soldiers returning from Afghanistan in caskets. Many more are coming home wounded, having lost limbs and eyes.

These are men and women who did not choose this conflict but were sent into harm's way to defend their country. They serve us all, and we can be proud of their commitment, their dedication and their bravery. Many of them have now paid the ultimate sacrifice.

But what is the cause for which they are being asked to fight and die, and is it worth the terrible price of British lives lost?

The Defence Secretary says that our troops are protecting Britain from acts of terrorism, and that the Taliban will commit terror on our streets if unchecked. If this is true, it is a compelling argument for the deployment of British forces.

But is it true?

In 2003, Tony Blair told us that British troops needed to occupy Iraq, as Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction which could be mobilised within 45 minutes. We subsequently found out that this was untrue.

Today, our Government is telling us that our soldiers are needed in Afghanistan because, otherwise, the Taliban will attack our cities and there will be a repeat of the July 7 London bombings. Yet those bombings were not carried out by the Taliban, but by four young Britons who led apparently ordinary lives. They came from Yorkshire, and did not have links to Afghanistan or the Taliban.

The time has come for the Government to be transparent with the British people about the need for our troops to be dying in the Afghan wilderness. We need to know the extent of the security threat, and to understand whether it is real or more akin to the half-truths that were spun by Tony Blair as his justification for the ill conceived war in Iraq.

The bond of trust between the Government and its people was broken over Iraq, so how can we trust what they are telling us over this latest conflict?

From: Roger M Dobson, Ash Street, Cross Hills, Near Keighley.

SO, our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is convinced that we are doing the right thing in deploying thousands of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

If this is so, have we a couple of army uniforms for him and his predecessor, Tony Blair, so that they may serve alongside our troops out there.

Should Gordon Brown be thinking that by having all those troops out there we are keeping the streets of Great Britain safe from terrorists, he must be mad.

Surely it would be better and safer to employ our troops at our ports and airports to make this country terrorist free with support from our special forces?

From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Acomb, York.

IT is very good, correct and emotional that so many people line the streets of Wootton Bassett when our dead soldiers are returned to England.

It is a fitting mark of respect, but I do so wish that millions of the general public would take to the streets all over the UK, and demand that the Government pull out of Afghanistan now, and bring home all our fine servicemen and women.

From: GE Hallam, Holme Gardens, Stainforth.

DURING the Second World War, I served in the Home Guard prior to joining the regular Army, which gave me the edge over my fellow

recruits.

I trained for another 18 months before going into combat abroad. In those days, you could not be sent into battle until you were 19.

Why is it that we see 18-year-olds now serving on the front line in Afghanistan?

Thoughtful legislation is needed over MPs' pay

From: Andrew Allison, organiser, Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Branch, Taxpayers' Alliance, Blackwater Way, Kingswood, Hull.

IN his article (Yorkshire Post, July 14), Lord Norton makes some very important points. The system of MPs' allowances and expenses is in desperate need of reform, but knee-jerk legislation can easily make the situation worse.

Many readers will remember the Dangerous Dogs Act, rushed through by the Major government. It wasn't that there were more dogs biting children. Those stories simply made it to the front pages of the tabloids, and the result was an appalling piece of legislation.

What taxpayers do want to see is an open and transparent system of compensating MPs for any additional costs they incur.

Sir Christopher Kelly may well recommend MPs receive a flat salary, with no allowances for second homes. If this is the case, I suspect our elected representatives will manage to live with more frugality than they do now under the present, discredited system.

Either way, thoughtful legislation is required to ensure we have a new system acceptable to the electorate. Hopefully, politicians will

then be in a position to try to rebuild trust between themselves and their employers – the voters.

From: Alan Chapman, Beck Lane, Bingley.

MUCH to the relief of most, Parliament is about to stand down for the annual three-month summer recess. Struggling to reach the end of term by endless toil over their expenses, MPs must be exhausted beyond endurance.

No more reporting to Head Office until mid-October. However, the political party debating season starts in late September. I believe Gordon Brown will be more concerned about the Labour Party conference than any other event this year.

For the Socialist comrades, this will be the last chance to change their leader before the General Election. Gordon could be in real and imminent danger.

If he suspects a serious challenge could decapitate him, he will be obliged to play his last ace. The only way to stop the plotters will be to call an autumn General Election. His party would be forced to get behind him for the final battle.

This would also scupper the Conservative Party conference which, traditionally, falls last of the season. The Tories would have to cancel their event and retreat to the constituencies to sharpen their swords.

Beauty in old buildings

From: K Cooper, Dronfield Woodhouse, Sheffield.

I ENJOYED seeing the photo of Sheffield from the new City Loft's St Paul's building (Yorkshire Post, July 13).

The real beauty is in the old architecture on Pinstone Street, Fargate, Surrey Street, Leopold Street and Church Street.

Just imagine if many more of the older buildings had been preserved or restored to keep the real character of the city, as in France and Germany.

It's a pity Hitler and some city planners had to spoil it.

Failure of capitalism

From: Brian Hardy, All Hallowes Drive, Tickhill, Doncaster.

I ENTIRELY agree with John Street in his defence of the public sector (Yorkshire Post, July 13).

I worked most of my life in the private sector and retired with a company pension which is now in jeopardy. However, I am not prepared to make a scapegoat of the public sector because of the greed and failure of capitalism.

Hadrian was right...

From: Bernard Robinson, Midland Terrace, Hellifield, Nr Skipton.

IN reply to William C McLaughlin (Yorkshire Post, July 13). Yes, let's have an independent Scotland, then we can get all the Scottish MPs out of Westminster.

They were foisted on to us by Scottish voters and they have ruined this country.

When they are back in Scotland, let us get that wall rebuilt. Hadrian got it right.

Common sense

From: Kevin Maguire, Hanover Street, Batley.

THE losers during the postal strike will be the general public.

Common sense must prevail as we do not want to see an autumn of discontent. No doubt this could be the benchmark for other union pay increases. Our postal service is excellent and this should not be forgotten.

Heavy burden

From: Annie Painter, Spring Lane, Crofton, Wakefield.

PEOPLE should stop worrying about swine flu and start bothering about the killer pandemic crisis that is widespread already; fat fever.